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There's a new electric vehicle (EV) start-up in town and it is reinventing the wheel. Israel's REE has come up with a novel design that has somehow managed to squeeze a vehicle’s motor, steering, suspension, drivetrain, sensing, braking, and electronics all into its wheels.
Now, the firm is raising money at a $580 million valuation. And Haaretz reports that Israel’s Meitav Dash investment house and ILDC Insurance have both invested.
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REE's current estimate value has largely improved, considering that in 2018 its rates were estimated at $86 million, and in early 2019 they grew to around $129 million. Part of this success is due to a partnership with Hino Motors, the truck subsidiary of Japan’s Toyota Motors, that gave REE the opportunity to demonstrate its products at the 46th Tokyo Motor Show.
REE's founders, however, did not begin their entrepreneurship journey with the EV firm. Instead, they first had a company called SoftWheel that developed wheels with shock absorbers built in them.
Today, the founders of SoftWheel, Daniel Barel and Ahishay Sardes, are REE’s CEO and chief technology officer. It is a long leap from wheels to EVs but one they have managed well.
However, they are not the only in-wheel proponents out there. Protean Electric, another producer of in-wheel motor technology, just got acquired by the National Electric Vehicle Sweden.
A popular technology
There's a good reason this technology is becoming increasingly popular. The architecture decreases a vehicle’s weight and offers more space in the passenger compartment.
It also allows the wheels to take on all kinds of vehicle types from small cars to buses. And on the plus side, it does all this without sacrificing speed.
Haaretz reports that an REE wheel can speed up from zero to 100 kph in just three seconds and can reach a speed of 250 kph.
REE now employs 100 people and has 60 patents, numbers that can only be expected to grow with the latest round of funding. And by the looks of things, this little innovative firm has a bright future.